Despite several calls, no villager from Damsagang Toed and Tshoduen chiwogs in Samrang gewog showed up to appear for the functional literacy test (FLT), a requirement to contest in the upcoming election for the vacant tshogpa posts.

The no show would leave the two demkhongs vacant for the second time. Tshoduen chiwog has 19 registered voters while Damsagang Toed has 13 registered voters. Most of the villagers live outside Samrang gewog.

In Lauri gewog’s Tshothang chiwog, the only two residents of the 220 registered voters with a FLT certificate also refused to contest for the tshogpa post. The dzongkhag election official Norbu Wangdi said no candidate has come forward to contest for the vacant posts.  Dzongkhag officials also said that a majority of residents in Tshothang chiwog are lay monks, which makes them ineligible to contest in the election. Residents also cited the lengthy process that is involved in changing their occupation as a deterrent to contest for the vacant posts.  Norbu Wangdi added that none of the women have also come forward to contest.

This means, of the seven vacant demkhongs for the post of gewog tshogde tshogpa and a vacant post for thromde tshogpa in Samdrupjongkhar, three Demkhongs would still remain without a tshogpa. The election for the remaining five vacant Demkhongs is scheduled for April 18.

The seven vacant demkhongs for gewog tshogde are Damsagang Toed and Tshoduen in Samrang gewog, Tshothang and Betseling-Doongmanma in Lauri gewog, Nabar-Philooma in Orong gewog and Rikhay and Martang in Dewathang gewog. The vacant post for Samdrupjongkhar thromde tshogpa is in Samdrupjongkhar toed constituency. This makes Samdrupjongkhar with the highest number of vacant demkhongs among the 19 dzongkhags.

After the former tshogpa secured more ‘No’ votes in the last LG election, a lone candidate would be vying for the post of tshogpa in Betseling-Doongmanma chiwog in Lauri gewog this time. In Nabar-Philooma demkhong in Orong gewog, the former tshogpa, who lost in the last election is recontesting.

Dzongkhag election official Norbu Wangdi said that save for one, all vacant demkhongs have lone candidates vying for the respective posts. The lone candidates have submitted in writing that they do not want to conduct a common forum. However, for Rikhay demkhong, where two candidates are vying for the post, a common forum would be held soon.

There are 1,280 registered voters in these five demkhongs. Applications of all five voters who had applied for postal ballots were rejected after it was found that four applicants were not registered for the facility while one application was received after the April 2 deadline.

The Election Commission of Bhutan announced April 18 as the poll Day for the 60 remaining vacant demkhongs in 19 dzongkhags.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Samdrupjongkhar